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I really like pipe viewer (pv). I wish it as more common in base installs of Linux.

http://www.catonmat.net/blog/unix-utilities-pipe-viewer/




Although not as featureful as pv, try hitting CTRL+t under OS X or any of the BSDs during a long running process. It provides status of the current running process without having to prefix the command with pv. I blogged about this a while back: http://jz.posterous.com/bsd-tip-of-the-day-ctrl-t




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